Sep 122006
 
Authors: MELISSA SCHAFF The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Blasting the stereo to the Red Hot Chili Peppers as loud as it can go: $1,000. Peeing on an elderly neighbor’s prized peony bush: $75. Throwing the party of the year with three other roommates: $1,000. Calling home for more money after receiving those citations: mortifying.

As CSU is easing into a new school year, so is the community. In order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere, Fort Collins has several ordinances applicable to student residents. Among the several include a zero-tolerance noise policy, bodily waste regulation and the occupancy limit ordinance, or “3-unrelated.”

If it’s too loud, turn it down

Noise is a major concern for Fort Collins residents, said Kelly Weaver, an officer with Fort Collins Police Services.

Melissa Emerson, Community Liaison Program assistant director, said it’s not always necessarily the noise at the party that’s a problem.

“It’s the coming back and forth to the party,” she said.

Officers take several factors into consideration before issuing a noise citation, including time of day and other noise in the area. Technically, however, music that can be heard from the curb of the house is enough for a noise violation. But officers usually give a lot of leeway, said Lt. Jim Szakmeister of FCPS.

Even though the initial fine is $1,000 per person, the courts will usually defer the fine or lower it if the people involved were cooperative with the police, Weaver said. The average fine is about $250, he said.

After receiving a fine and attending court, those involved with a noise violation are required to attend a Party Partners session, an educational program meant to spread the word about the city’s ordinances.

Fort Collins’ hard line seems to be working.

There was a 61 percent decrease in noise violations last year from the year before, according to Connie Bebell, an administrative assistant with Conflict Resolutions and Student Conduct Services.

“Between the zero-tolerance policy and Party Partners, we’re getting the message out,” she said. “There were less than 3 percent of repeat offenders after attending a Party Partners session.”

A tree is not a toilet

In addition to a potential noise violation from a party, participants may get a $75 fine if they are caught releasing bodily fluids on another’s property. This may include vomit, urine and spittle, according to Off-Campus Student Services.

“It’s just common courtesy,” Emerson said.

Too many roommates

And, of course, there’s the “3-unrelated” ordinance.

The dreaded law, in a nutshell, states that no more than three unrelated individuals can live in a house.

Thousands of CSU students are believed to be in violation of this ordinance, but the city will not begin enforcing the measure until January.

According to Weaver, students and citizens may not be entirely familiar with this rule, yet some violate it by not signing the lease and living at a certain residence anyway.

“People commit crimes either because they don’t care or don’t know that it’s wrong,” he said.

With several resources to aid students in planning a party, avoiding conflicts and acquiring violations, police are encouraging students to be resourceful with them.

“People don’t plan to fail,” CSU Police Department Cpl. Yvonne Paez said. “They fail to plan.”

Staff writer Melissa Schaff can be reached at news@collegian.com

BREAKOUT:

Some other violations commonly enforced by the city:

Abandoned or Inoperable Vehicles

-Inoperable vehicles (vehicles not currently licensed or incapable of operating) can’t be stored on your property unless screened from public view.

Outdoor Storage/Rubbish

-Accumulations of rubbish such as vehicle parts, appliances, discarded household items, trash, branches and yard waste cannot be stored on your property (they must be properly disposed of). The unscreened storage of materials not usually stored outdoors in residential neighborhoods is restricted, including but not limited to: tires, construction materials and household items. Broken toys and other miscellaneous house/yard debris must be shielded from public view or disposed of. No furniture designed and manufactured for indoor use can be placed in the yard, an unenclosed porch/patio or on the roof.

Public Nuisance Ordinance for Multiple Violations

-In 2000, the Public Nuisance Ordinance (PNO) was established to remedy chronic property problems. The city considers a property a problem when city code violations occur on a regular basis annoying or disturbing others, and tickets were issued. The city considers property owners accountable for the use of their properties. After the first ticket is issued, the violator, property owner and property manager receive a letter from the city explaining the PNO consequences and encouraging positive resolution so no additional tickets are issued.

Unshoveled Sidewalks

-Residents are required to shovel sidewalks within 24 hours after a snowfall ends. If a sidewalk is not completely cleared of snow and the city shovels or applies ice melt, there will be a cost to the property owner. The city will shovel driveways and sidewalks if they are buried by snowplowing after residents have cleared them.

Trash and Yard Maintenance

-The city has specific codes to address trash, grass, weeds and outdoor storage. If a complaint is made, the city’s Code Enforcement inspectors will investigate and if warranted, send a violation notice to the property owner and the tenant of the property. The owner or tenant then has seven days to correct the violation. If not corrected, the city will provide the services to correct the violation and assess the cost to the property owner. In some cases a summons may be issued, requiring a court appearance.

Source: City of Fort Collins

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